The City of Literature Tour

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JOURNEY through our UNESCO City of Literature with its rich history of authors, publishers and books,
EXPLORE the creative ways that Melbourne’s literature has been expressed over time through the writers, festivals, shops, galleries, architecture, typography and art.
HEAR literature from stories, poems, books and places connected to the streets of Melbourne. Melbourne Walks ourselves are the authors of award-winning BOOKS.
OUR school tours allocate LITERARY IDENTITIES to participating students of people who helped create our literary city.

SEE  –  Also our many SCHOOL PROGRAMS.  e.g Explorer, Federation, Aboriginal, Early Melbourne, Lanes, ‘Runner’, Street Art and more.

Our book club had a fantastic walk around Melbourne. Our walk leader kept us entertained with interesting information and hidden gems. A must-do for anyone interested in Melbourne, history, or literature. We ended up feeling delighted and surprised. Dienne.
Thanks for taking our students on this fascinating tour. Our visiting students were thrilled and loved the history and the literary identities you gave to each student.   Tao Nan School (Singapore)
The City of Literature Tour was terrific and I’ve highly recommended it to friends. I look forward to going back to some of the places we visited. Doug and Di McCarthy.
We are part of a Young Authors Program and our students are made up from different schools across the Ballarat area. Our group participated in this walk last year and it was fabulous. Bunninyong Primary.

Some of the books, authors, settings and literature connections that we may explore in our CBD tour:

Writers in Hand.  Athenaeum Theatre.
The Enigmatic Mr Deakin by Judith Brett
Neramnew by Paul Carter
Our Ancestors Return Home by Jim Berg
You Daughters of Freedom by Claire Wright
The Monster Petition 1891
For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon
1835 by James Boyce
The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Claire Wright
Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood
The Passion and the people. Bringing our Ancestors Home by Jim Berg.
The Phryne Fisher Mysteries by Kerry Greenwood
MacRobertson Land by Jill Robertson
The Coles Funny Book by Edward Coles
The Grandest Shop in the World by Amelia Mellor
Runner by Robert Newton
A Midsummer Nights Dream by William Shakespeare
The Melbourne Tram Book by Randall Wilson, Dale Budd
Poster Boy by Peter Drew
One Thousand and One Arabian Nights
Shakespeare  & Newspaper House Mural by Napier Waller.
The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey.
Rare. A Life Among Antiquarian Books by  Stuart Kell
The Hill of Content by A. H. Spencer.
The Mystery of the Hansom Cab. Fergus Hume
Blockbuster. Fergus Hume and The Mystery of the Hansom Cab. Lucy Sussex
A Scandal in Bohemia. Gideon Haig 2018.
The Portrait of Molly Dean. Katherine Kovacic 2018.
Monash. The Outsider Who Won a War. Roland Perry
My Brother Jack. George Johnston.
The Rabbits by John Marsden and Shaun Tan.
Ross and Dot Reading, Peter Reid and the Green bookstore.

Melbourne Dreaming by Meyer Eidelson
The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida.
Aspro. How a family business grew up by Alexander Barrie.
Vali Myers A Memoir by Gianni Menichetti.
The Max Factor & My stamp on life by Max Stern
Books Tanks and Radios by Meyer Eidelson
Zines by the Sticky Institute

The Golden Girl by Betty Cuthbert.
The Unforgiving Minute by Ron Clarke

Utopian Man. Lisa Lang.
Larrikin Crook. The Rise and Fall of Squizzy Taylor by Hugh Anderson

The Gun Alley Murder. Truth Lies and the Failure of Justice by Kevin Morgan 2005.
Dangerous Language: Sulari Gentil

Writers in Hand.  Athenaeum Theatre.
Rare. A Life among Antiquarian Books by  Stuart Kell
The Hill of Content by A. H. Spencer.
Monkey Grip by Helen Garner
Possum Magic by Mem Fox
The Toff series. John Creasey
The Mystery of the Hansom Cab. Fergus Hume

Books set in the streets of Melbourne

Novels set in Melbourne

This tour is included in Lonely Planet's Best Tours 2015.

Our Literary Tour was included in Lonely Planet’s Best Tours.


Great books to read about Melbourne
Some well-known Melburnians were asked what books they thought most crystallized the essence of their city.

  • Melbourne Writers Festival director Steve Grimwade:  Christos Tsiolkas’ Loaded and ‘The Slap’; Poets Alicia Sometimes’ St Kilda, Kieran Carroll’s ‘Talking to Richmond Station’  Shane Maloney’s trilogy featuring Murray Whelan.
  • Author Robert Newton: Stiff‘, the first of the Murray Whelan trilogy,
  • Author Kate Holden: Helen Garner’s ‘Monkey Grip’
  • Media figure Libbi Gorr: Jeff Apter’s new book, ‘Shirl: The Life of Legendary Larrikin – Graeme ‘Shirley’ Strachan‘.
  • Novelist Honey Brown: Lily Bragge’s memoir, ‘My Dirty Shiny Life’
  • Author Toni Jordan: Michelle de Kretser’s third novel, ‘The Lost Dog’
  • The Big Issue books editor: Toni Jordan’s latest novel, ‘Nine Days’
  • Writer-performer Jane Clifton and ABC Books and Arts Daily presenter:  Fergus Hume’s 1886 thriller ‘The Mystery of a Hansom Cab’
  • Michael Cathcart:  Fergus Hume’s 1886 thriller ‘The Mystery of a Hansom Cab’
  • Author and birdwatcher Sean Dooley:  H.W. Wheelwright’s 1861 ‘Bush Wanderings of a Naturalist’
  • Bookseller and writer Corrie Perkin:  Kristin Otto’s ‘Yarra: A Diverting History of Melbourne’s Murky River’
  • Historian David Day: Tony Moore’s recent’ Dancing with Empty Pockets’
  • Poet and broadcaster Alicia Sometimes: Jeff and Jill Sparrow’s ‘Radical Melbourne: A Secret History’.
  • Writer and bookseller Josephine Rowe:  Lisa Lang’s ‘Utopian Man’
    John Bailey, The Age, August 12, 2012

Read about the rich history of Melbourne’s books and writers from early Melbourne until today by Des Cowley and John Arnold (
In Flinders Lane, near Roach’s store,Were bogg’d a dozen, less or more;
Two dapper dames, return’d from shopping,
Were, much against their wishes, stopping:
A brace of New Chums, sprucely drest,
In long-tail blues, – their very best, –
Look’d rueful at their spatter’d breeches,
Vow’d Melbourne’s Streets were beastly ditches

George Wright’s poem ‘Adventures on a winter’s night in Melbourne 1857

The creative imagining of Melbourne began when John Batman sailed up the Yarra River on 8 June 1835 and wrote in his journal ‘this will be the place for a village’. The figures of John Batman and John Pascoe Neil1 - CopyFawkner, generally cited as the founders of Melbourne, have been largely passed over by literary writers. Batman was the subject of the play Batmania (1997) and his courtship of his future wife Eliza features in Robert Close’s novel Eliza Callaghan (1957). Fawkner is a minor character in Eric Lambert’s The five bright stars (1954). However, the convict William Buckley (1780-1856) has provided writers with one of their most enduring characters. The title of James Bonwick’s biography, published in the year of its subject’s death, William Buckley, the life of the Wild White Man and his Port Phillip Black Friends (1856), was followed by Edward Williams’ De Buckley, or incidents of Australian life (1887), Marcus Clarke’s ‘William Buckley, the wild white man’ (1871) and John Bernard O’Hara’s Songs of the south: second series: The wild white man and other poems (1895), and in the 20th century Alan Garner’s Strandloper (1996), Barry Hill’s award-winning book of poetry Ghosting William Buckley (1993), and Craig Robertson’s Buckley’s hope (1980).

Richard Howitt, an early settler to the Port Phillip District, published Impressions of Australia Felix (1845). ‘The native woman’s lament’, narrated by a Kulin woman, is a sympathetic lyric about the loss of traditional hunting lands. A similar sentiment is to be found in Kinahan Cornwallis’ Yarra Yarra, or, the wandering aborigine: a poetical narrative (1857). ‘To the river Yarra’, on the other hand, celebrates the river and the new European settlement on its banks.

Thomas McCombie’s minor novel, The colonist in Australia, or, The adventures of Godfrey Arabin (1845), deals in part with his experiences in the Port Phillip District. Of greater significance is George Henry Haydon’s novel The Australian emigrant (1854), based on his Five years’ experience in Australia Felix (1846), a factual account of his time in the colony. Rolf Boldrewood’sOld Melbourne memories (1884) includes memories of the Melbourne he came to in 1841. Georgiana McCrae arrived in the same year and provides in her journals, edited by her grandson Hugh McCrae and published as Georgiana’s journal in 1934, a detailed account of Melbourne in the 1840s. With her son George Gordon, she is also the subject of the title poem in Christina Mawdesley’s collection The corroboree tree(1944). More

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